Plans (marketing plans, business plans, etc.) are useless. Yet, you must plan. Let me explain both those statements.
It is cliche, but true, no plan survives contact with the real world. At my day job I've been in charge of the marketing for almost 30 separate productions. I can honestly say that things went according to plan maybe 8 - 10 times.
The rest of the time, something unexpected happen. Sometimes it was great, sometimes it was horrible, but it always NOT accounted for in the plan.
So if plans have limited value, why do it?
You do it because the planning process helps to improve your thinking. A good planning process, as compared to thoughtless one, should help to present holes in your thinking. It may reveal to you that you financial assumptions are out of wack, or that you are targeting the wrong audience, or that you missing certain tools that you need to achieve your goals.
All of that is extremely useful information which can reveal through a planning process, not matter what the outcomes of the actual plan are.
The key point here is that you should always think about what you are doing. I know that sounds obvious. It has been my experience, however, that a lot of marketing (and other) efforts fail because they were putting together without serious consideration. Many plans are just rehashed version of old plans.
That's the path that leads up to the worst of both worlds. You get a useless plan AND you don't get the benefits of considered planning process.
So here's the best marketing advice I can give you today.
I know life is busy and all that but just stop, walk away from the computer and think about what you are doing.
What marketing assumptions are you making? Trust me, you are making plenty.
Are those assumptions true? What makes you think that?
Does your plan make sense given what you know about your organization, your audience and the world in general?
It's amazing what you can do if you just ponder those sorts of things for 30 minutes.
Or you can just keep running around and doing things.
If you're looking for a space to stop and think I highly recommend my arts marketing workshop happening on April 20 in Chicago, The Gift Sessions.